We were in an accident. My ears still tingled from the silence after the impact.
I couldn’t move. Emma was pressed against me.
“E-Em?” I coughed. My voice trembled. “Em?” My throat choked up.
She didn’t respond. She didn’t move.
I wanted to shake her badly, but I was so weak to do so. I smelled blood. It rolled down my temple to my face and neck.
The smoke started to sting my nostrils.
I started to hear noises from outside the car. The commotion escalated.
The sirens of the ambulance resounded.
Although my eyes were blurry, I whirled my gaze around and saw a bunch of heads surrounding us and the flashes of lights.
I thought I was okay.
I could still remember the paramedics who arrived and took me from the collision. Unfortunately, Emma wasn’t. I was still shaking with fear with what happened and for Emma.
They brought us to the hospital by separate ambulance. Even if I wanted to refuse and go with Emma instead, I didn’t have the strength.
All I wanted right was for her to be okay. I wanted to scream out these indescribable feelings—rage, fear, despair as it all came back to my senses, but my voice came out a pitiful cry.
“Emma?” My parents came rushing to where the bed I laid in.
“Mom. I'm sorry,” I told them about Emma. They left and never came back.
I still didn’t know anything about Emma’s condition. They had to drug me when I struggled to go down from my bed to check up on her, and the drug didn’t help me.
“How’s she? The girl was with me?” I asked the doctor about Emma, and it was not good news. I felt the world fell onto me.
I wouldn’t wonder why none of them came back. They blamed. Well, I would take the fall even if they had to hate me. That was the punishment I had to endure for the rest of my life.
I almost killed Emma. They discharged me after twenty-four hours of observation.
Emma had been in a coma for three days. After the CT scan and MRI results, Emma had a spinal cord injury. Something about her T6 paraplegia or SCI T6 paraplegia. Whatever it was, it didn’t sound good. One thing I was sure of, she had paralysis and wouldn’t be ever to walk for the rest of her life.
She was still unconscious. The next time I peeped in her door, they removed the tube, and she was breathing with the help of the oxygen. Still, there were so many things attached to her that looked scary.
It felt like I carried the whole world around my shoulder to see her in that position. She must be in pain. The worse part was, I was not allowed to see her in her room.
I wished I could change position with her. What happened was all my fault.
My heart broke. What about her future? How did she take the news? Did she blame me too? Of course, she did. I was sure she hated me.
Life was so unfair. I was the one here standing and walking on my own. She took all the force.
Emma woke up five days later. Her paralysis, I guess, was permanent now. I was still sneaking into the hospital. Emma then found out that my name was not on her visitor’s list.
I finally got a chance to talk to her on the eighteenth day. She was alone.
She looked better. Still beautiful even when her eyes were closed. I finally held her hand after the long eighteen days, and it was a relief.
“Hey, Em.” My eyes started to sting. I had to look up to control my tears from falling, but I failed miserably. I wiped my face and planted a kiss on her knuckles. I wanted to say something. I just didn’t know what to say or where to start after what I put her through.
“Perce?” I was startled in my seat.
“I thought you’ll never show up.” Her words were like a whisper. I missed her voice. Her eyes were wide as she stared at me with a smile on her face.
I blinked and swallowed the guilt down. Somehow, relief washed over me that Emma seemed happy to see me. I was still speechless, though—and surprise to see her talking.
Guilt was an understatement of how I felt. At the same time, I was beyond grateful. I stared closely, searching for the sadness on her face and in her eyes. I knew her, masking her emotions was not one of her best suits.
“We don’t have all day to just staring at each other. The visiting hour is limited, Perce. If you’re blaming yourself because of what happened, please, don’t.” She slightly shook her head.
“I’m so sorry.” I just threw all her dreams away. It was difficult to breathe, knowing it was all my fault. I’d been crying all day and night, but it didn’t even help.
“I’m not blaming you. The last thing I remembered, you said to me to go back to my seat and secured my seatbelt, but I refused,” she said slowly.
Still, it didn’t help with my guilt. I looked down at our hands. I sniffed and wiped my tears again. All I could do was nod as if it was okay, but I was far from okay.
“Mom and Dad won’t let you come, I know. I asked them if you came here to see me. They said you never give a damn about what happened. I figured out later on that they didn’t allow you to see me.” My parents were the worse person in the world, blacklisting me. I sneaked all the time when no one was around, just to take a glimpse of her.
I couldn’t look at her in the eye again. I nodded.
“I’m glad you’re okay, Perce. The moment I woke up, I thought of you.” She paused. “Say something, please?” She squeezed my hand. “Mom and Dad didn’t tell me if you were okay. I’m thankful you’re here now. I really miss you, Perce.”
When she started crying, I couldn’t take it anymore. My heart was crashing. I got up from my chair and sat beside her. I pulled her into my arms, hugged her so tight, and burst into a cry. She wrapped her arms around me too. We both cried for a few moments.
“I really want to see you the moment I was released, but they wouldn’t allow me. I had to sneak in to see you from outside your room. I’m so sorry, Emma. I wish I could reverse the situation. It’s killing me to see you here in bed while I didn’t get any injuries. I wish I’m the one lying where you are right now. I’m so sorry, Emma. I know apologies won’t help you, but I’ve never felt so helpless until right now.”
I wiped the tears from her face. I pulled some tissue on her bedside and let her blew her nose. I did the same, making her giggle.
“Don’t apologize, Perce. That was meant to happen. I already accepted my fate. I’m glad you’re okay, though, and please stop blaming yourself.”
Why she had to be so kind and accepted her injury? It made me guiltier.